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Biography of Ford Maddox Brown

Portrait of Ford Maddox Brown

Ford Maddox Brown was a nineteenth century painter.

When and Where was he Born?

16th April 1821, Calais, France.

Family Background:

Brown was the son of a ship’s purser.


Studied art in Antwerp under Baron Waupers. Also at Bruges, Paris and Rome.

Timeline of Ford Maddox Brown:

1841: Brown establishes himself as a history painter and completes “Manfred on the Jungfrau” in Paris. Also works on “The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots”. He marries Elisabeth Bromley on 3rd April 1841 at the Parish Church in Meopham.

1845: He visits Italy and is bowled over by the richness of colour in Italian masterpieces which lead him to increase his own tonal range.

1846: Brown settles in England. He becomes a friend of the Pre-Raphaelites but is never a member of the Brotherhood. Dante Gabriel Rossetti works in his studio as he is initially impressed by his colour work. Death of his first wife.

1851: Brown paints “Chaucer Reciting his Poetry”.

1852: He begins his elaborate masterpiece “Work” which he completes in 1863.

1853: He marries Emma Hill on 5th April at St. Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street, London.

1855: He paints “The Last of England”.

1861: Brown becomes a founder member with William Morris of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company which was later to become Morris and Company. He produces several furniture and stained glass designs for the company. He paints his other major mature painting “Christ Washing Peter’s Feet”.

1863: He completes perhaps his most famous painting “Work”. Two copies exist. The larger one finished in 1865 hangs in Manchester and a smaller version finished in 1863 is at Birmingham Museum and Art gallery.

Work. 1865. (Manchester Art Gallery)
Work. 1865. (Manchester Art Gallery)

1892: He produces twelve frescoes for Manchester Town Hall.

When and Where did he Die?

6th October 1893, London, England of blood poisoning.

Age at Death:



1. To Elisabeth Bromley on 3rd April 1841 at the Parish Church in Meopham. (dies 1846).
2. To Emma Hill on 5th April 1853 at St. Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street, London.

Site of Grave:

St. Pancras Cemetery, London, next to his second wife Emma and two children.

Places of Interest:


Museum and Art Gallery. (“The Last of England”) (copy of “Work”)


Walker Art Gallery.


Tate Britain.


Manchester Town Hall (Murals).
Manchester City Art Gallery. (“Work”).
Whitworth Art Gallery.


Castle Art Gallery, Nottingham.


Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton.


Aberdeen Art Gallery.